It’s an Easter tradition that dates back centuries and produces some of the most coveted coins of the year.
Since 1662, during the reign of Charles II, each year on the Thursday before Good Friday the monarch has gifted members of the public a money allowance, known as Maundy money, as part of a special ceremony.
But this year, over 350 years of tradition have been broken…
That’s because with the Queen in isolation at Windsor Castle, the ceremonial red and white leather purses containing today’s consignments of Royal Maundy money have had to be delivered remotely.
Instead of handing them out personally, as tradition has dictated for centuries, the Queen had been forced to send them by Royal Mail.
It’s a reminder of the huge and unprecedented sacrifices our nation is having to make during this extraordinary time – even during the Second World War King George VI or the Archbishop of Canterbury still held the ceremony.
It’s a truly unique moment for this traditional Easter ceremony and cancelling this historic tradition is a step that Her Majesty will not have taken lightly. But we can be grateful that the Royal Mail are able to deliver Maundy Money to this year’s 188 recipients in order to keep a part of the tradition going despite this unusual time.
If you’re interested
It’s a tradition that dates back to the time of the Bible. During the Last Supper, Jesus famously washed the feet of his disciples as a sign of his humility, and it was this religious event that inspired an Easter tradition which takes place to this day.
Since the thirteenth century, members of the Royal Family have followed Jesus’ example, giving gifts to the poor and washing their feet on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. By the eighteenth century, the act of washing feet was discontinued and the accompanying gifts were replaced by a money allowance, known as Maundy money.
And it was this change that created one of the most interesting of all the historic Royal Mint releases.
The first Maundy money ceremony took place in the reign of Charles II, when the King gave people undated hammered coins in 1662. The tradition has continued for over 350 years and today’s recipients of Royal Maundy are elderly men and women, chosen because of the Christian service they have given to the Church and the community.
At the ceremony, the monarch hands each recipient two small leather string purses. A red purse contains ordinary coins, while a white one contains the extremely special silver Maundy coins, amounting to the same number of pence as the years of the sovereign’s age.
Its deeply historical roots are what makes Maundy Money a rare highlight in any classic coin collection. But because of their extremely limited mintage and the fact they have never been issued into general circulation, they now stand as a one of the most highly sought after Easter gifts in the world!